Last week Sunday I ran the Around the Bay 30k Road Race. The last time I ran this race the year was 2003 and I was 27 years old, still a spring chicken. That year I finished in 2:57:37. Since then I’ve attempted to train for Around the Bay several times, but have never been able to get my endurance up over the winter to where I need it to be to run 30k. There was one year about 3 or 4 years ago when I did manage to get the training in, but was diagnosed with a nasty kidney infection about 2 days before the race, so unfortunately I had to skip it. Last year I went and cheered on my friend Emma and while there I vowed never to watch the race go by again. So this year I raced!
Becky on my left, Juliette is on my right
Saturday night my hubby prepared a wonderful pasta party for my best running friends, their families, and I. We carb loaded on bacon wrapped bread sticks, carrots, sugar snap peas and hummus, pasta with a meat and sausage sauce followed by ice cream, brownies and chocolate sauce. Suffice it to say the three of us were suitably stuffed and well carbed before the race.
Before bed, I laid out all of my planned race gear. As I haven’t run this race in a long time, I wasn’t sure what to wear to race at this time of year. The forecast was for -4C at the race start, with the temperature climbing to +8C by my anticipated finish time. My plan was basically to wear lots of layers and discard them as needed.
Race morning I woke up an hour before I needed to with a killer headache. I’m guessing the headache was stress and hormone related (I get migraines when Aunt Flow visits). I wasn’t sure what to do, so I turned on the Headspace Meditation app on my phone to calm my brain, my nerves and to relax. Thankfully it worked to help reduce my headache.
Starting to run behind, I quickly had a hard boiled egg, my Love Grown Oats, a black coffee, and got dressed. I was ready to go!
I drove my running buddies to the race stopping once at Tim Horton’s so I could pick up my pre-race tradition: a Boston Cream donut and a medium coffee double double. I have this strange theory that a Boston Cream donut makes me faster. Surprisingly this NEVER upsets my stomach.
We arrived in Hamilton with just enough time to park, then head to First Ontario Centre for a bathroom stop before lining up in the corral. I was supposed to meet with #teamhumanrace but just didn’t have enough time. By the time we got to the corral the race had actually already started and we were at the back with the walkers.
Becky weaved her way through the crowd ahead of us because she’s faster than us. Juliette and I hung back to take the race slow and to enjoy the atmosphere. Neither once of us had a time goal – we just wanted to finish and enjoy the race. In the first km Juliette’s bib became unpinned so we had to stop while she tried to get it secured back on. It actually took her awhile to get it back on, but I was thankful for the stop so I could get my heart rate (anxiety) down.
Splits 1-5k: 6:32, 6:01, 5:58, 5:53, 5:55
My fuel strategy was to take in 3 honeystingers every 5k but forgot so I took them in at 6k. By the 8k mark I was roasting! I had WAY too many layers on and I hadn’t layered in a way that would make it easy to get stuff off. I took off my jacket, my long sleeve and my t-shirt. I spent a few minutes running in just a sports bra and tights and felt fine. I threw my t-shirt away because there was no way I wanted to run and carry it. I stuffed my buff, toque and gloves in my jacket pocket and tied my jacket around my waist. This wasn’t the most comfortable way to run, but at least I had Juliette with me to distract me. There were a few gentle elevation changes on the bridges.
Splits 6-10k: 5:40, 5:50, 5:42, 5:42, 5:45
The next 5k we were still feeling great but had to go to the bathroom. Together we pulled off at 13.5k to line up for the port-a-potty. We were 3 & 4 in the line but didn’t really care because we had to pee so bad. I’m pretty sure if I was going for a time goal I would just ignore the urge and kept on going, but there’s no point in spending 90+ min uncomfy when you’re just running for fun. Once we got back running we saw Juliette’s friend Ron – he’s super inspiring because he lost like 150lbs by running! He’s run Around the Bay a few times and told us that the half way point was just before the lift bridge. We were almost half way there and still feeling great!
Splits: 11-15k: 5:23, 5:52, 5:42, 5:46, 6:07
The next 5k was uneventful. We felt great and were chatting about the beautiful houses we saw etc. We were trying to hold back knowing that the hills were coming.
Splits 16-20k: 5:45, 5:40, 5:53, 5:55, 6:03
At 20k the 6k of rolling hills began.
Photos never illustrate how big or how hard hills are. I was still feeling strong, but I think the distance and the hills were mentally starting to burn Juliette out. I ran to the top fo each hill and doubled back or waited for her to finish each one. At this point we saw people start to fall apart. This is what did me in at STWM. Seeing other people give in to the pain that I was feeling made me mentally feel worse than I probably was and gave me the social acceptance to stop – this time I vowed to keep going. We saw a chick tossing her biscuits at the top of a hill, but I tried to ignore it. Somewhere on the last hill I lost Juliette. I looked back and couldn’t find her in the crowd. I assessed the way my legs felt and knew that if I stopped to find her I wouldn’t be able to get going again. I kept going hoping that she would be ok.
Splits 21-25k: 6:14, 7:02, 5:58, 6:13, 6:03
When we turned onto Plains Rd. I knew that the race was flat and/or downhill all the way to the end – I had made it through the worse. Unfortunately at this point we were no longer protected by the houses from the strong headwind, and it got cold again. I put my jacket back on and ran on. At 26k I looked at my GPS for the first time and realised that if I picked up the pace I would be very close to breaking 3 hours! Yay! So I attempted to turn on the jets, only my legs had no power left from the hills. It was super fun to see the Grim Reaper because it meant I was near the end. He had scared the crap outta me 12 years ago, but this time I was mentally ready for him and took his picture – though he still scares the bejeezus out of me in the same way that some people are afraid of clowns.
Splits 26-30k: 6:15, 6:05, 5:57. 6:10, 5:47
I enjoyed the next 3km of downhill running and felt great but couldn’t get any power in my legs. I honestly thought I was running faster than what I really was. I wished I had my headphones with me because I hate the sound of my feet and breathing – it also takes my mind off of running. I saw a race photographer so I threw up my arms to pose for him – I’m pretty happy with the way the photo turned out.
Finally I saw the arena and booted it in – I couldn’t wait for the running pain to be over!
So happy to be done! My official chip time was 3:02:11 – not quite the sub 3 hours I hoped for, but considering my pacing, and the tough winter of training (and my lack of weekend long runs), I’m quite happy with my results! Plus I’m 12 years older than the last time I ran this race distance….
Juliette finished in 3:08 and speedy Becky finished in 2:39! We all had a great race and I’m super proud of my training buddies.
Around the Bay 30k is a fun race with a unique distance. It’s well organised and there are fans along the whole race route to cheer you on – especially in the hilly section. I love that the start and finish is at First Ontario Centre arena – this means there are INDOOR WARM washrooms, and it’s easy to meet up with people before and after the race. The finish line chute was well organised and the food line was part of the finish chute so you don’t have to walk far on exhausted legs to get your self some grub. The volunteersh and out the food instead of letting people help themselves. I liked how that was set up so that everyone was able to leave with some food to refuel on. There have been races I’ve done before where the food was so organised that I didn’t bother with it but regretted it. I had a great time and can’t wait to go sub 3 hours next year!